Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 11:14 UK

China online: Tibet and torch reaction

Over the past few weeks Chinese bloggers and people on internet forums have been reacting to events in Tibet and the protests disrupting the torch relay.

This is a summary of some of the trends so far.

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Paralympic athlete Jin Jing during the torch relay in Paris
The treatment of Paralympian Jin Jing in Paris sparked outrage in China

Blogs, internet forums and text messages circulating in China have urged consumers to boycott French goods in response to the protests that accompanied the torch relay in Paris.

Popular anger at chaotic scenes which saw pro-Tibet protesters grab the flame from Paralympic fencer Jin Jing has been inflamed by detailed accounts posted on the internet by eyewitnesses.

The blog EastSouthWestNorth translated the most notable of these posts from popular Chinese internet forums and newspapers.

One bystander waiting by the Seine for the torch to pass found himself involved in the scuffle for the torch. He recounted his experience on popular Chinese-language forum Tianya.

"The brave girl lowered her head and used her back to shield the torch. The thug pulled her shoulder back and hit her... Tears rained out of my eyes. I was sad and angry. Here was an unarmed girl who was handicapped, and the thug had to hit her?"

The anger and the bewilderment at the actions of the protesters is palpable in one of the response posts: "Who is abusing human rights? Who is bringing violence to this world?"

Lists of products and brands to boycott, including Louis Vuitton and French retailer Carrefour, have been widely circulated.

Blogger Wang Jian Shuo says several of his friends have started to boycott French products and describes the impact of recent events on his own thinking: "If you need an example, I am the person in China who were turned from pro-France to anti-France within few days. .. I don't think France is a friendly country at all."


The latest ditty to catch the imagination of the Chinese blogs and chatrooms is "Don't be too CNN" - a musical retort to the perceived bias of western media outlets such as CNN and the BBC.

"Don't be too CNN", broadly intended to mean "don't ignore the truth", has a music video which has been posted on many blogs and forums in China. The lyric has assumed the status of a cult catchphrase.

There are at least two versions of the song circulating. One version features a young woman singing about CNN's coverage of events in Tibet with screen grabs from the CNN website.

Another is set to the tune of Britney Spears' 1998 hit, Baby One More Time, and denounces both CNN and the BBC. In one scene from the video for that version the emblems of both organisations are emblazoned on a woman's buttocks.

One of the biggest Chinese language online portal sites,, has a popular page: "Don't be too CNN, fire to the Western media."


John Kennedy, who translates and collates highlights from the Chinese blogosphere for Global Voices, has highlighted instances where the online community has targeted certain individuals - and even taken its opposition offline.

He cites the example of Grace Wang, a Chinese student at Duke University in the US, who was spotted by other overseas Chinese taking part in a Free Tibet protest, which led to what he describes as "torrents of horrid abuse and at least one lengthy human flesh search engine witch hunt" which began on the Chinese language online portal Tianya.

If we use nationalism as the weapon to resist the westerners, then how can we persuade the ethnic minorities to abandon their nationalism
Chang Ping, Journalist and blogger
The EastSouthWestNorth blog talks about "human flesh search engines" as a phenomenon where an online community is mobilised to track down specific individuals or facts.

In this case a friend of the student concerned has written to Global Voices to say that the harassment was so serious that the student's home in China was attacked with rocks.

An internet manhunt - complete with "Wanted" posters - for the man who allegedly wrestled the torch from Paralympic athlete Jin Jing has also been launched on the Chinese language anti-CNN site.

The media monitoring blog Danwei highlights the case of Chang Ping, a journalist and blogger who was labelled as a traitor on forums - criticism which also made its way to the newspapers.

Chang Ping was attacked for his essay "How to find the truth about Lhasa" in which he says: "If we use nationalism as the weapon to resist the Westerners, then how can we persuade the ethnic minorities to abandon their nationalism and join the mainstream nation-building?"


Chinese supporters and pro-Tibet campaigners come face-to-face during the torch  relay in San Fransisco  - April 10 2008
Pro-Tibet campaigners came face-to-face with Chinese supporters in the US

The disillusionment and outrage in China at the torch protests and the perceived bias of the western media is evident across countless blogs and bulletin boards.

Many commentators have said that the protests over Tibet have only served to strengthen Chinese nationalism rather than evoke sympathy for the Tibetan cause. has a petition against the Western media which has reportedly accumulated millions of signatures. Chinese language bulletin board Tiexue (Iron blood) has also hosted outpourings of anger.

In her blog RConversation, Rebecca McKinnon co-founder of Global Voices Online and assistant professor at Hong Kong University's journalism centre, says: "Lots of Chinese people now view the Western media, human rights groups, and Western leaders' criticisms of their country as part of the Racist Western Conspiracy to Stop China From Being Successful."

She also points to the blog by an expatriate in China, Mutant Palm, who has been watching and commenting on the fallout from Tibet and torch protests online.

He tracked initial reaction to events in Tibet on Chinese versions of mobile phone social networks such as Fanfou. He argued in one early post that people should try and engage directly with Chinese "netizens" on networks such as Fanfou and Twitter in the spirit of constructive dialogue.

"Its time to start trying some things instead of just throwing our hands in the air and dismissing the other side as brainwashed, indoctrinated or oppressed. There's life out there folks, try making contact," he says.

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